I teach Buryat and Mongolian languages at Buryat State University, I speak Kalmyk and Dagur languages as well, and I am aware of the problem of endangered languages. The Language environment of my native language, Buryat, is almost destroyed and continues to deteriorate.
I am sure that with new technologies it can be possible to preserve these endangered local languages. There have been some positive developments, such as the creation of electronic textbooks, and the promotion of indigenous peoples’ languages on radio, television, and the internet.
These initiatives are extremely important, because the preservation of indigenous peoples’ languages will not happen by itself. However, in terms of expanding these efforts globally, more effort is needed. This is why I created a new thematic network language documentation and preservation. Participants in this network will be able to share their experiences learning and saving the endangered languages of the Arctic peoples. We are not only going to organize workshops and conferences, but also conduct research projects. In the most cases, we cannot rely solely on the written materials that are available. It is very important to work directly with native speakers. This is the last chance we have to improve this situation, because many indigenous people's languages are on the verge of disappearance.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent government support for endangered languages, and that is definitely something that is needed for the development and preservation of these traditional cultures. People learn their languages from early childhood, and problems passing on the language to future generations is one of the reasons for their disappearance. This is why we must pay close attention to initiatives or ideas that make learning the language interesting and engaging for younger generations. We hope that modern language learning technologies will help in this process. As the problem is becoming especially acute, we need to prepare a large amount of informational materials concerning indigenous peoples’ languages to create and support an agile language learning environment in the virtual sphere.
I am glad that the University of the Arctic Council supported our initiative to create this thematic network, because I believe that this activity is important, not only for linguists, but also for those peoples who live and work in the Arctic and the surrounding areas.